It’s not that movies like Stephen King’s It or the new entry to the Halloween franchise aren’t box office hits. The problem is, this new trend is unsustainable.
It seems as though nothing was learned from the slasher trend of the 1980’s. Franchises like Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, and A Nightmare on Elm Street milked their success to death with studio executives milking the aforementioned franchises to the point of lampooning their own characters.
By the time Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare came out, Freddy Krueger had already gone from terrifying antagonist to a comedic punchline.
Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th suffered a similar fate. Sure, both he and Freddy Krueger are icons of horror now, but they’re rarely actually considered scary.
It didn’t end in the ’80s.
In 2004 James Wan and Leigh Wannell released a fantastic and original horror film called Saw.
Then came Saw 2, Saw 3, Saw 4, and a slew of other sequels. Box office numbers dwindled, critical reviews went further negative and the franchise died a parody of itself.
Simply put, sequels shouldn’t be made arbitrarily and for the sole sake of profits. If movie execs want a steady stream of profits, they should focus on original horror.
Movies like Insidious, A Quiet Place, Hereditary, and a number of others all brought back serious box office numbers and acclaim.
So sure, Michael Myers and Pennywise the clown might be making serious bucks today, but the audience will tire of these characters eventually if a ton of poorly written sequels come out year after year.
Their popularity will wane and audience attendance will lower. It will lead to the misconception that horror is suddenly no-longer profitable, resulting in fewer horror movies being made.
The only surefire way for horror to remain profitable is for movie studios to invest in original horror at least as much as they do franchise horror.
A24 films figured that out quickly and their reward has been Academy Award recognition and broken box office records.
There will always be room for Freddy and Jason in the horror world, but there should be equal room for original horror.
Nothing will stop sequels and remakes in this decade, but if A24 has taught us anything, it’s that given the chance, nothing will stop good, original horror too.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, money will be the main decider in which films get made and which films don’t.